How To Shadow Box
When learning how to shadow box, there are critical things you need to remember in order to land punches effectively and minimize injury. The most difficult aspect of shadow boxing is keeping your body in rhythm since it is doing several things at once. Here’s how it breaks down.
- Know how to stand. When you shadow box, imagine an opponent is in front of you. Angle your non-dominant side toward him by no more than 45 degrees.
- Dominant hand/non-dominant hand. Your non-dominant hand goes out in front and is called your lead hand. Your dominant hand is your rear hand and will be used for power punches like the uppercut and the cross.
- Feet placement. Put the foot in front of you that corresponds to your lead hand, i.e. left hand is lead hand, so left foot goes out in front. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend slightly at the knees.
- Elbows. Keep your elbows tucked in, even when you shadow box. This will prepare you to block punches to the midsection.
- Hand placement. Before you throw a single punch, make sure your hands are ready to protect your face. Keep them at eye level with your fingers facing your head.
- Footwork. Get in the stance described in steps one through four, then take a few steps to either the left or right. If you’re moving to the right, for instance, bring the left foot toward the right foot, step and then extend the right foot out. Do not extend your right foot first and then step in with your left. This will open up your stance, throw off your balance and make you vulnerable.
- Coming back to stance. No matter which direction you choose, make sure you always end up back in stance. A skilled opponent will be able to take advantage of any deficiencies in your form. So when you’re learning to shadow box, do yourself a favor and get in the habit of returning to stance immediately.
- Jabs. A jab is a quick punch from stance straight in front of you with your lead hand. To jab, bring the heel of the back foot off the ground and extend your fist. When you extend, twist your hand so that your fingers are facing the ground (called overhand). Don’t extend your arm too much when you shadow box or you risk overextending it. Save the full extension for your actual fights. Bring your fist back into stance, fingers facing your chin.
- Hooks. This is slightly more complicated than the jab. Swing your arm in an arc at the side of your opponent’s head. Twist your body as you swing. Pivot out on the ball of your lead foot.
- Uppercut. Whereas the jab and hook are thrown with your lead hand, the uppercut is thrown with your rear from underneath at your opponent’s chin. For example, if your right hand is your lead hand, then drop your left hand slightly and twist your upper body to the right as you thrust your hand up. Push upward with your legs to get the proper explosiveness. Follow these instructions in reverse if your left hand is the lead.
- Cross. Another rear-handed punch. It is called the cross because you throw it across your body. Think of it as a jab using the rear hand. All the same rules apply. Twist your torso into the punch. Rotate your rear hand so that when it lands it is overhanded. Lift up the heel of your rear foot as you throw. Do not overextend your reach.
- Ducking. Pretend there is a rope tied from one wall to the other that is shoulder-high. Practice ducking beneath this rope as if avoiding a punch. Practice ducking both left and right, keeping your hands in front of your face and your elbows tucked in at all times.
These are the basics of how to shadow box. Practice these regularly and you will be able to move up to more complex punches and defensive moves in no time.